Oral Cancer – Do You Know the Risks?

added on: September 30, 2013
Dental examination

Oral cancer may not be in the news as often as other cancers, but at Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis, it’s on our minds daily. Nearly 7,000 people will die in 2013 as a result of oral cancer, with approximately 36,000 new cases diagnosed. (Source: American Cancer Society)

Oral Cancer Symptoms

It’s important to have an oral cancer screening at every dental checkup. Oral cancer isn’t difficult to diagnose, but the danger is that it’s often caught in late stages when it’s spread to other parts of the body. If you notice any of the following symptoms in between checkups, please call us right away:

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • A lump or thickening of the lining of the mouth
  • Difficult or painful chewing or swallowing

Who Gets Oral Cancer

More than 80% of oral cancers in men (65% in women) occur in tobacco and alcohol users, and combined heavy tobacco and alcohol use increases the risk 300 times than that of non-users. (Source: National Institutes of Health, 2006)

Notice we don’t say “smokers.” There is NO safe tobacco product, despite what you might hear. Even smokeless tobacco, pipes, and clove cigarettes increase your risk nearly 100 times more than non-tobacco users.

HPV and Oral Cancer

The human papillomavirus virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that causes approximately 25% of head and neck cancers, including oral cancer.

At our dental practice in St. Louis, we use a tool called a VELscope® for oral cancer screening. It’s a blue-spectrum light that highlights any unusual cells in the tissues in your mouth. (It’s well tested, safe, and approved by the World Health Organization.) If we see anything unusual, we’ll take a sample with a Brush Test® and send it to a specialized laboratory for examination.

If you’ve been avoiding checkups, why not call our dental office at now? Information and prevention is key to your dental health, as well as your overall health!

Posted In: Oral Cancer